The way designers continue to cram more features into the same DIN-size slot never ceases to amaze me. Take the new Eclipse CD7000, for example. This AM/FM/CD player also spins MP3/WMA-encoded discs and can be hooked to a host of peripherals: an Eclipse navigation system, an iPod and Sirius Satellite Radio. Thanks to the power of the Web, even more goodies can be downloaded and crammed behind the CD7000's beautiful faceplate.
Actually, make that a very beautiful faceplate. After I had the crew at Avincar in Portland, OR, install the CD7000, I couldn't stop admiring how great it looked. The big, bright display was easy to read even in bright sunlight, and the economical use of buttons and large rotary volume control make the faceplate neat, uncluttered and relatively easy to use.
Face Pattern Inside the volume knob are two multifunction controls: a big four-way SELECT switch that accesses a large variety of settings and a small ENTER button in the center that selects items accessed by the SELECT switch. The remaining, most-used controls are grouped around the large SELECT/ENTER control.
Arrayed along the bottom of the faceplate are numbered buttons that select radio presets and access CD-mode functions. On the far right side is a MUTE button that also switches to Eclipse's Area Shot function when a nav system is attached. Just above it is a MENU/CUSTOM button that accesses a staggering number of menu items, depending on whether you select the Sound Adjustment Mode, Display Adjustment Mode or Function Mode, or if it's pressed for more than one second, a shortcut for a frequently-used function can be created. Finally, there's a release button for the faceplate. And that's it - clean and functional. Well almost ...
While I liked the orderly layout, some of the buttons were confusing or just plain hard to use. For example, it took me a while to get the hang of the MENU switch and it's complex layers, particularly when using the intricate signal-processing features. But that's where the MENU switch's alter ego - the CUSTOM button - came in handy, allowing the user to access functions used most often.
Signal Processing Speaking of signal processing, the Eclipse CD7000's capabilities rival those found on sophisticated outboard processors. Just the level of crossover adjustment is impressive. Since the setup in my Impala at the time of evaluation was a 3-way system, I could choose crossover points from 20Hz on the low end up to 10,000Hz on the high end in a wide range of increments, and I could punch in any crossover slope from full passband to 24dB per octave in 6dB increments.
The CD7000's EQ capabilities were equally impressive. With a 3-way speaker layout, an 11-band parametric EQ can tweak the high and midrange, with another band allocated for the subbass. In addition, the Q or sharpness of the EQ curve can be adjusted in five separate increments. And that's not all....